Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Admiration for the Jesuits

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.
When I was a child, I wanted to become a Jesuit, because I learned from my mother that Ateneo de Manila University, a very good school in the Philippines is run by the Jesuits. When I was in high school, I learned that Jesuits are good writers for we studied a literary work of a certain Jesuit (I can't remember the name). At that time, I wanted to improve my writing that is why becoming a Jesuit remained in my mind. Anyhow, I also learned that Ateneo produced several celebrated Jesuit writers such as Horacio dela Costa, S.J., Miguel Bernad, S.J., John J. Carroll S.J. etc.

What amazes me about the Jesuits is that they are priests but some of them have their own profession. Not only they are lawyers, scientists, economists, etc. but they excel in their field. A very good example is Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J. the only priest that I knew of who is considered a constitutional expert in the Philippines and holds the distinction of being the amicus curiae of the Supreme Court. Another example is the immediate past president of Ateneo de Manila University, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. who was proclaimed a national scientist by our country's president.

Just recently, I read two management books. The first one was entitled "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" by Peter Drucker and the second one was "The McKinsey Way." In the first book, Peter Drucker cited the Jesuits as an example for a certain innovation in management practice. In the second book, the Society of Jesus was compared to McKinsey, a management consulting firm known to employ only the world's brightest people. Looking at it, there is no other order or society within the Catholic church being accorded as such. That's aside from the astuteness and charisma of Pope Francis.

Despite of all their achievements, Jesuit priests remain humble and based on my observation, they live a simple lifestyle. When I was having my MBA at the Asian Institute of Management (a business school co-founded by Ateneo), I used to attend Sunday mass officiated by Jesuit priests from Ateneo. There was this very remarkable Jesuit priest Fr. Luis David, S.J., whose homilies are so deep that ordinary Catholics can hardly understand. I also like the homilies of Fr. Mario Francisco, S.J., the former president of Loyola School of Theology. A retired Jesuit bishop, the Most Rev. Federico O. Escaler, S.J., D.D. was also saying mass in our school. He's a very kind and approachable bishop.

It was said by one of Philippine historians that had our national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal not martyred, he would have chosen to become a Jesuit. In one of Dr. Rizal's writings, he expressed his profound admiration for his Jesuit teacher at Ateneo Municipal. One thing which perplexes me was during Dr. Rizal's execution. At that time, two Jesuit priests was beside him to give him the final prayers. We know that Dr. Rizal was executed because the Spanish friars (particularly the Dominicans) were angry with his publication of a book which they purported to be against the Catholic church and labeled him a heretic. In my mind, the gesture of the two Jesuit priests present at his execution was a profound expression that the Jesuits are welcoming even the dire of sinners, the persecuted and the marginalized. Isn't this an epitome of God's love which is inclusive for all? This is the reason why for me, the Society of Jesus is a very attractive organization and becoming a Jesuit is a pure expression of God 's love that knows no bounds.

(This was my comment to Fr. James Martin, S.J. article in Time Magazine entitled "What It Means to Have a Jesuit Pope". Link: http://ideas.time.com/2013/03/15/what-it-means-to-have-a-jesuit-pope/ )  

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